When Will Blackmon attended Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, Rhode Island, he and his dad Wayne Blackmon drove up and down the East Coast so that Will could attend combines, get noticed and ultimately get recruited. There were no opportunities to showcase his talents locally in RI.
Wayne Blackmon, a single parent caring for six children at the time, remembers it well.
“I scraped for the money and we drove everywhere. We spent a lot of time in the car,” said Wayne. “After Will was named the MVP of the Boston College camp, he said ‘Dad, I was just invited to a combine at Syracuse. As much as I dreaded the drive to Syracuse, we got back in the car and headed to New York. I just wanted Will to have the opportunity to get noticed. I wasn’t even thinking about the NFL at the time. I was just hoping college coaches would see him and maybe he’d get a scholarship.”
The road trips paid off. Will went on to have a stellar career at Boston College and later, in the NFL. Since then, the 11 year NFL veteran has made it his goal to host a combine in RI and create opportunities for high school players to be seen by college and pro scouts. Mission accomplished. Blackmon has teamed up with former Brown and Hendricken All-State quarterback Kyle Rowley to host the inaugural Blackmon/Rowley Combine Camp on Sunday, July 15 at their alma mater, Bishop Hendricken.
“When I was in high school (at Hendricken) I never had the opportunity to go to a local combine. My dad had to drive me up and down the East Coast to be seen,” said Blackmon “Kyle and I want to provide the opportunity here in RI for local high school players to be seen and get recruited. Kyle and I believe our kids in RI can compete with anyone, regardless where they are from. We are really excited to host this combine at at Hendricken and bring something great to help our own football players in RI get noticed.”
High School players will have a chance to showcase their talents and work on their skills with an experienced staff led by New England Patriot Pro Bowler and Super Bowl Champ Dan Koppen, who will be on hand, along with college coaches, pros and RiVALS Scouts. The experienced camp staff will be also comprised of many former RI standouts including Jordan Monk (St. Raphael/North Carolina State), Robert Sewall (Portsmouth/Brown), Matt Sewall (Portsmouth/Bryant) and Chancellor Logan (North Kingstown/Georgetown). Several of Blackmon’s former BC teammates will also be in attendance.
“We we want kids in RI to get noticed and prove that they have what it takes to compete.”
Blackmon, the former All-Stater and All-American at Hendricken and standout at BC, spent nearly a dozen years in the NFL. He has played for the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars and earned a Super Bowl ring with the NY Giants.
Rowley, the former two-time All-Stater at Hendricken and quarterback at Brown, spent 14 years playing professionally in the Arena Football League. Rowley won two national championships with the Spokane Shock. A two-time MVP, Rowley broke the All-Time Single Game Touchdown Record (12 TDs) and the All-Time Arena Bowl Touchdown Record (10 TDs).
“With our experiences as D-1 college and pro football players, we have collected plenty of resources and knowledge to bring something great to help out our own football players in Rhode Island get noticed,” said Blackmon. “We we want kids in RI to get noticed and prove that they have what it takes to compete.”
Rowley said there is plenty of talent in Rhode Island. Players just need a place to showcase their talent.
“I used to be irked at the local colleges..they were overlooking our kids in RI and taking kids from out-of-state that weren’t as good. Then I realized that the local colleges will show up if there is an event to showcase the kids. That’s what we are doing here now in RI…hosting an event here in RI and give the local kids a chance to be seen.”
To register for the Blackmon/Rowley Combine Camp on July 15 visit: www.eastcoastfball.com.
The combine comes on the heels of the a free youth football camp held by Blackmon on July 14 at Hendricken. The fourth annual Will Blackmon Football camp, open to youth 7- to 14-years-old, is designed to introduce youth to football by teaching basic skills in a fun and energetic environment. Free for participants, the camp is supported through a grant from the NFL Foundation.
“I love coming back home to RI. It’s important to me to give back to the community and offer this camp for kids who may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate,” Blackmon said.
To attend the Will Blackmon Free Youth Camp on July 14, register here.